YAG Laser Capsulotomy

Current waiting time: 12 weeks to assessment

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Introduction

Patient
Journey

What to
expect

FAQ

Useful
Documents

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Introduction

YAG laser capsulotomy is a procedure sometimes required after cataract surgery, should the patient’s vision start to blur again.  

When cataract surgery is performed, the surgeon deliberately leaves part of the original lens capsule in place to help support the new plastic lens, as this helps minimise the risk of complications immediately after surgery. Despite regular improvement in surgical techniques and intra-ocular lens design, up to 1 in 3 people can experience this capsule becoming ‘foggy’ over a period of time. This ranges from a few weeks to several years after surgery.  

We use a YAG laser to focus a beam of light very accurately on the foggy capsule and create a window. This allows more light to get in to the eye. The appointment takes approximately 30 minutes, which includes a consultation with the ophthalmologist beforehand and an examination of the eye. You will not be ‘dazzled’ by the procedure, you may see a small red light but most patients do not feel or notice the treatment at all.

Typical Patient Jouney

Step 1: Referral and Assessment

Day 1

Referral agreed during sight test at your opticians, which is sent on to N2S.

The referral request is triaged by the admin team at N2S to ensure it meets our basic guidelines.
If appropriate, you will be added onto the waiting list for treatment.

Current wait – 12 weeks

When appointments are available, a laser secretary will call you to make an appointment. You will be sent an appointment confirmation letter, as well as a map and information leaflet about the procedure.

Should you need both eyes done, they will be treated at the same appointment.

Step 2: Procedure – what to expect on the day

On the day of your appointment you will be given an arrival time. We are monitoring the amount of patients we have in the practice carefully, so please do not arrive any earlier than 10 minutes before your stated arrival time as you will be turned away. Your temperature will be checked, and at this point you may be asked to leave should your temperature be above 37.5°C.

Please allow 30-45 minutes for your appointment.

You will be escorted upstairs to the waiting area, where a member of the theatre team will complete some preliminary checks on your eyes and instil some drops which will dilate your pupil. These drops may sting slightly – this is normal.

Once your eyes are ready you will be brought through to the consultant, who will review the preliminary checks performed and discuss the proposed treatment. With your consent, they will then start the laser treatment.

This will take no longer than 10-15 minutes per eye.

Afterwards a member of the theatre team will collect you. You will be given eye drops and several documents to take away with you: an FAQ guide and a guide to complications/risks. You are then free to go home and will be discharged from our care.

Often there is no need for a follow up or review appointment, however should you need one this is usually arranged before you leave.

Step 3: Post-op

You will receive a post-op call the day after your procedure. Please ensure you have your phone handy for when this call comes through, as our nursing staff usually only have a certain amount of time to make those calls.

You will have an appointment to check your wound five days after your procedure, after which as long as everything is okay you will be discharged from our service.

YAG laser capsulotomy FAQ

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When can I safely drive after YAG capsulotomy?

You are safe to drive after YAG capsulotomy as soon as your vision meets the standards of vision for driving (refer to website https://www.gov.uk/driving-eyesight-rules) This would depend upon

  1. The vision in the other eye 
  2. The effect of dilating drops used for the treatment that can cause blurred vision lasting for up to 8-12 hours after treatment. 
  3. The extent of visual improvement in the treated eye. 
  4. The appearance of floaters that are very common in the treated eye. Whilst some people experience none and some can see them for a few weeks after treatment, in a majority of people they usually disappear a few days after treatment. 
If I have the procedure early in the morning will I be able to drive later that day or should I wait till the following day?

As far as your vision meets the standards of vision for driving (refer to website https://www.gov.uk/driving-eyesight-rules), you should be able to drive as soon as you are comfortable to do so, it is probably best to wait until the following day to allow the eye to settle.

I am having YAG capsulotomy on Wednesday but am planning a long drive at the weekend. Will this be OK?

As far as your vision meets the standards of vision for driving (refer to website https://www.gov.uk/driving-eyesight-rules), you should be able to drive as soon as you are comfortable to do so. The doctor will inform you if there are any return visits required and will provide you with some anti-inflammatory drops after the procedure that need to be used for a week after treatment in most cases.

When can I safely fly following YAG capsulotomy?

There are no contra-indications to flying after YAG capsulotomy. The doctor will inform you if there are any return visits required and will provide you with some anti-inflammatory drops after the procedure that need to be used for a week after treatment in most cases.

I am thinking of booking a holiday abroad – would it be better for me to wait until after my holiday before booking my appointment?

If you are reasonably happy with your vision, it might be advisable to wait until after your holiday before booking the appointment in case of any return visits required occasionally after treatment.

If I have YAG capsulotomy and then go on holiday what will I do if I have problems afterwards?

It is advisable to contact the local eye clinic if you are concerned about pain, red eye, flashing lights, or a constant shadow in the vision.

Should I inform my insurance company that I have had YAG capsulotomy? Will my travel insurance cover me?

It is always best that you update and inform the relevant Insurance Company about the YAG capsulotomy before you travel. This will help clarify matters specific to your insurance company well in time before your travel.

After having YAG capsulotomy can I go home on the bus?

After having YAG capsulotomy you can take the bus provided you are able to see well enough with your other eye. This is because the treated eye could be blurred for a few hours and may take up to a few days to settle.

After having YAG capsulotomy is it safe for me to walk home?

After having YAG capsulotomy it is safe for you to walk home provided you are able to see well enough with your other eye. This is because the treated eye could be blurred for a few hours and may take up to a few days to settle.

Should I have someone with me when I have YAG capsulotomy?

It is always recommended to have someone with you if possible when you have YAG capsulotomy as the vision in the treated eye could be blurred for a few hours after treatment. 

NB: you will not be able to have anyone (spouse/partner/carer) accompany you into the practice whilst the COVID-19 precautions are in place. If someone brings you in a car they can drop you off in the basement car-park but they are not allowed to wait for you there.

Can I wash my hair/ take a shower/go swimming after YAG capsulotomy?

There are no contra-indications to hair washing/showering/swimming after YAG capsulotomy.

Should I make sure I am not wearing eye make-up before my procedure? When can I start wearing make up again?

Eye make-up is best avoided before treatment as we are required to use a contact lens on the surface of the eye as part of the procedure. You can start wearing eye make up the day after the procedure unless you are advised otherwise.

When can I do activities such as gardening after YAG capsulotomy?

It is advisable to allow the eye to settle after YAG capsulotomy although gentle activities including gardening are not entirely contra-indicated.

How often should I take my prescribed eye drops?

The anti-inflammatory drops after YAG capsulotomy are usually prescribed three times a day for a week. Your doctor will inform you of any other drops or tablets you are likely to need or if the drops need to go in more often or for longer than the usual time. 

What happens if I run out of my prescribed eye drops? Can I get another prescription and if so, would that be from N2S or my GP?

The drops would usually last for the prescribed period of a week and for up to a month if need be. If you do need another prescription, it is advisable to contact your GP in the first instance. If you experience any difficulty with this, you are welcome to contact N2S for advice/eye drops.

Why do I have to wait 4 weeks to have my second eye done?

There are certain risks, although uncommon, associated with YAG capsulotomy as mentioned in the information leaflet. It is advisable to allow time for the first eye to settle before undertaking treatment to the second eye. Floaters, although transient, are very common after treatment, risks such as retinal detachment and cystoid macular oedema are less common.

I had YAG capsulotomy yesterday but my eye is blurry and feels like there is a film over the eye? Is that something to worry about?

It is common to have floaters and/or a film over the eye after YAG capsulotomy. This results from the debris caused after laser treatment. This usually slowly resolves in a few days to few weeks after treatment.

I can see lots of floaters even though I had YAG capsulotomy a couple of weeks ago – is that normal?

Floaters are common after YAG capsulotomy. These can vary from a single to many floaters, and results from the debris caused after laser treatment. Whilst some people experience none and some can see them for a few weeks after treatment, in a majority of people they usually disappear a few days after treatment. Eventually all floaters resolve.

My eye is red and itchy and keeps watering. What should I do?

It is advisable to contact us if your eye is red and itchy and keeps watering soon after or a few days after YAG capsulotomy.

When should I go and see my optician following YAG capsulotomy?

It is advisable to see the Optician a month after YAG capsulotomy if updated glasses are due after treatment. If both eyes need treatment this is one month after the second eye is treated. If you have just had updated glasses only recently, YAG capsulotomy usually does not change the prescription. 

Will the optician test my eyes again?

Your optician may wish to test your eye again if updated glasses had been deferred until after the YAG capsulotomy.

Will I still need to wear spectacles once I have had YAG capsulotomy?

YAG capsulotomy does not usually influence a previous prescription. If you did not need glasses before treatment, then you are not likely to need glasses after.

Once I have had YAG capsulotomy will I ever have to have it done again?

Although it is highly unlikely, it is possible to have to have YAG capsulotomy again.

Useful documents

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Appointment letter

Information leaflet and map

Complications / risks

Contact us

If you have any questions, please get in touch:

PLEASE DO NOT SENT US MESSAGES VIA THE WEBSITE ABOUT URGENT MEDICAL MATTERS - Use the appropriate contact details provided at the time of your appointment.

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